New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Our film is ultimately about hope and love. I've never encountered a more qualified person who managed to hate the sin and yet love the sinner than Richard Wurmbrand. And while we did film scenes of the cruelty of the communists, we tried to never lose sight of Richard's enduring and powerful faith.
In February of 1948, during the Russian occupation of Romania, communist secret police arrested Pastor Richard Wurmbrand on the streets of Bucharest. Wurmbrand, like thousands of other political prisoners, was imprisoned because he publicly proclaimed his faith in Christ in an era of communist atheism. Ultimately serving more than 14 years behind bars, Wurmbrand was part of an entire generation of Christians who experienced a form of communist persecution that was invisible to the world. Miraculously, he survived, was freed in 1964, and came to America.
In 1967, Wurmbrand published the book Tortured for Christ, which quickly became an international best-selling book. Now, for the first time, the dramatic retelling of that story has been brought to the big screen.
Tortured for Christ comes to U.S. movie theaters for one night only on Monday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m. local time. Tickets for the special screening can be purchased by going to http://www.TorturedForChrist.com Fans throughout the U.S. will be able to enjoy the event in nearly 700 select movie theaters.
Cole Richards, Executive Director
of The Voice of the Martyrs, said, "It's been 50 years since Richard Wurmbrand shared his incredible story in the book Tortured for Christ, and 50 years since he launched the ministry that is known today as The Voice of the Martyrs. The release of this film is a great way to honor his legacy and share his example of love with the world."
Director/Co-Writer John Grooters said that the decision to cast and shoot the film on location in Romania was easy, especially after he saw for himself that many of the locations and prisons where Wurmbrand's story took place were still intact.
"We filmed for several days in Jilava Prison near Bucharest," said Grooters. "The place is abandoned today, but the echoes of suffering still can be sensed inside those walls. It was a chilling feeling, and not just because we shot in the frigid temperatures of winter. The authenticity of all the locations really contributed to the authenticity of the performances by the actors."
Executive Producer/Co-Writer Steve Cleary was a close friend of Wurmbrand and his wife, Sabina, traveling extensively with them before their passing into eternity. Cleary shares, "This was an opportunity of a lifetime to capture the story of the greatest man I've ever met. I asked myself, 'If Richard could speak in church one last time, what would he say?' I believe this film captures that message and honors his legacy."
Well-known author and speaker Ray Comfort said, "What a moving, powerful, and quality production! After watching it, I feel shallow and ashamed that I ever battle fear when it comes to sharing my faith. It has had a profound effect on my Christian walk—especially to use our present liberty to share the Gospel, while we are still able to do so."
Wurmbrand said that to be in a communist prison was to be tortured. He experienced many forms of brutal torture, abuse, and illness. Sabina was also arrested and spent nearly three years in communist labor camps. The film depicts both of their stories and reveals their unwavering commitment to live out the love of Christ in all circumstances, to all people.
The film does depict scenes of the brutal persecution endured by the prisoners under their communist guards, but Director
Grooters was sensitive not to overcommit to the cinematic allure of magnifying torture.
"Our film is ultimately about hope and love. I've never encountered a more qualified person who managed to hate the sin and yet love the sinner than Richard Wurmbrand. And while we did film scenes of the cruelty of the communists, we tried to never lose sight of Richard's enduring and powerful faith. By the end of the film, I believe people will be more inclined to worship than to despair."
The dialogue in the film alternates between English, Romanian and Russian (with English subtitles) to hold to the authenticity of this true story.
Production and post production was handled by Grooters Productions of Holland, Michigan, who worked with Bucharest's Fast Production Film for in-country services. Grooters said, "The chance to work alongside the cast and crew we met in Romania was an unbelievable privilege. They brought not only their incredible talent, but also their passion to this production. This was a truly international cooperative on every level."
The Voice of the Martyrs is a nonprofit, interdenominational Christian missions organization dedicated to serving our persecuted family worldwide through practical and spiritual assistance and leading other members of the body of Christ into fellowship with them. VOM was founded in 1967 by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who was imprisoned for 14 years in Communist Romania for his faith in Christ; his wife, Sabina, was imprisoned for three years. In 1965, they were ransomed out of Romania, and soon thereafter they established the global network of missions of which VOM is a part. The Wurmbrands based these missions on Hebrews 13:3, which instructs us to "remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body." To learn more about The Voice of the Martyrs go to https://www.persecution.com/
John Grooters is an active director, writer and producer with a broad history in professional film production that spans over two decades. With more than 60 national and international awards for video production excellence, John brings a thoughtful perspective and a highly sought-after style, consistently executing visual artistry on a scale that most think only the likes of Hollywood can produce. John's experience in film is as vast as it is engaging, but his first love is storytelling - on every scale. John's work has been seen by millions throughout the world in theaters, museums, festivals, trade-shows, conferences, and on broadcast television. To learn more about John Grooters, go to https://johngrooters.com/ or visit him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/johngrootersdirector/